I’ve never been described as timid. My personal and professional values include boldness. I do ascribe to that Latin proverb: Audentis fortuna iuvat. Fortune favors the bold. (OK, OK, truth be told, I had to look that up because I know nothing about Latin; I hope it came off as intelligently as I intended.)
Fortune favors the bold means that people who take risks reap great rewards and people who are courageous are usually the most successful. I believe that this adage is something that can also be applied in the practice of law.
Have you ever witnessed injustice and kept your mouth shut? This could be watching someone disrespect a cashier at the grocery store.
Have you seen a coworker give the worst advice to a client, but you chose not to address the wrong because of hierarchy — and job security?
Have you ever had a client ask for unreasonable outcomes and instead of countering with boundaries and realities acquiesced to avoid conflict?
We have opportunities for boldness every day and many of us fail to use them. I am not talking about boldness with reckless abandon, but wisdom:
Boldness is deciding to hang up your shingle to see whether, as an entrepreneur, you can succeed in the practice of law.
Boldness is choosing to take on a pro bono matter for racial justice, knowing there will be public consequences.
Boldness is saying no to potential clients who are bad fits when they show abusive tendencies. (Boldness is ethically firing said client and refunding their money due to abusive behavior, meanness to staff, and tyrannical tendencies. Hey, sometimes the money is too good to be true. Trust me on this.)
When I started my practice I wanted to focus on representing women. This didn’t mean that I wouldn’t represent men or that I was anti-men. I always believe that through women, I could reach everyone, including spouses, children, parents, and the community. However, I hadn’t seen any advertising and thought it would be controversial to position my practice in such a bold way.
The first thing I did was call state bar ethics and ask them if there were any prohibitions in positioning myself in this way. There weren’t. Today, the stance doesn’t seem very bold in my practice but back then it was huge. I didn’t see any Texas estate planning law firms niche down for women in this way. After wise counsel, I decided to go this route because … why not? Choosing this bold angle in marketing proved to be very successful. I encourage you to look for opportunities for boldness to stand out in your practice as well.
What are some opportunities that you’ve had for being bold in your practice? Have you decided to put yourself out there in an unusual way? Let me know at email@example.com.
Iffy Ibekwe is the principal attorney and founder of Ibekwe Law, PLLC. She is an estate planning attorney evangelist for intergenerational wealth transfer with effective wills and trusts. Iffy is writing her first book on culturally competent estate planning, available in 2022 (prayers up!). She graduated from The University of Texas School of Law and has practiced law for over 14 years. Iffy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on her website, and on Instagram @thejustincaselawyer.